Self-Driving Electric AbraSelf-Driving Electric Abra

Self-Driving Electric Abra : The Way Dubai Embraces the Future

Dubai, a city known for its innovation and commitment to sustainable development, is once again making waves in the transportation sector. The city has recently announced the trial of a self-driving electric Abra, an autonomous marine vehicle designed to carry up to eight passengers. This groundbreaking project is a significant step towards realizing Dubai’s Strategy for Self-Driving Transport, which aims to transform 25% of the city’s mobility journeys into self-driving journeys by 2030. In the following article, we will discuss in detail futuristic projects and the eventual impact on the Dubai transportation system.

Introduction to the Self-Driving Electric Abra

1.1. A Glimpse into the Future

The self-driving electric abra is a cutting-edge marine vehicle that combines the traditional design of the abra, a small wooden boat used for short-distance travel across Dubai Creek, with the latest advancements in autonomous technology and electric propulsion. This advanced technology helps in achieving zero-emission, environmentally friendly, optimal maintenance, and eco-friendly transportation not only enhances mobility within the region but also contributes to the City’s vision and commitment to reduce carbon- emissions.

1.2. The Road to Autonomy

The autonomous electric abra has undergone extensive trials to ensure its safety and efficiency. through collaborating with companies such as Exalto Emirates and Marakeb companies extensive trials are conducted, which is just two levels shy of the highest level of autonomy for ship design and operation. The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) aims to further develop the abra’s automated anchoring operations and decision-making capabilities during maneuvers and emergencies to achieve Level 5 autonomy shortly.

Manufacturing the Self-Driving Electric Abra

Self-Driving Electric Abra

2.1. Local Production

The self-driving electric abra was manufactured locally at the RTA’s Al Garhoud Marine Maintenance Centre. The idea of local productions not only highlights the city’s commitment to supporting the regional business but also ensures that the abra’s design remains true to its heritage and the tradition

2.2. Preserving the Traditional Design

The main objective and ideas of the design are to retain the heritage identity of traditional abras and also incorporate the latest technologies. This unique combination of tradition and innovation is a testament to Dubai’s ability to balance its rich cultural history with its ambitious vision for the future.

Features of the Self-Driving Electric Abra

3.1. Zero Carbon Emissions

The self-driving electric abra is equipped with two electric motors and four lithium batteries, which produce seven- hours of operation time. This electric propulsion system not only eliminates carbon emissions but also reduces operating and maintenance costs by 30% compared to diesel-powered models.

3.2. Noise Reduction

Through the electric propulsion system, it can significantly reduce the noise level thus eliminating noise pollution. The elimination of noise pollution enhances the overall passenger experience and contributes to a more serene environment along Dubai’s waterways.

3.3. Advanced Autonomous Control System

The self-driving electric Abra‘s autonomous control system ensures 100% adherence to the predetermined route, taking into account the effects of waves and wind. With the help of the latest and advanced technologies, the abra is capable of detecting the obstacle in the navigational path, notifying the control center of any system defects or deviations from the operating plan, and intervening if necessary.

Inaugural Journey

The self-driving electric Abra embarked on its first journey from Al Jaddaf Station to the Festival City Station on Dubai Creek. The inaugural journey laid a milestone mark for the new beginning of Dubai’s transportation network and serves as a testament to the city’s dedication to embracing cutting-edge technology.

Aligning with Dubai’s Strategy for Self-Driving Transport

The autonomous electric abra project aligns with Dubai’s overarching strategy for self-driving transport. The city’s vision is to convert 25% of the city’s mobility journeys into self-driving journeys by 2030 which not only reduces traffic congestion but also enhances public transportation efficiency, and promotes sustainable development.

Reducing Carbon Emissions

The self-driving electric abra contributes to Dubai’s master plan to curb carbon emissions from public transport, as mandated by the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy. The Zero- carbon emissions can be achieved by utilizing clean electric propulsion which supports the city’s efforts to reduce its environmental impact and achieve its sustainability goals.

Enhancing Traditional Abra Stations

The RTA’s master plan of marine transport development plan aims to enhance the capacity of traditional Abra stations in Dubai Creek. These improvements include utilizing advanced technologies to reduce maintenance costs, extend asset lifespan, improve station and marina lighting, and provide customer facilities and investment areas. The master plan focuses on the development of four traditional Abra stations: Bur Dubai, Deira Old Souk, Dubai Old Souk, and Al Sabkha.

The Impact on Dubai’s Marine Transportation Infrastructure

Amongst the other mode of transport Marine plays a vital role in ensuring smooth mobility within the Emirate of Dubai. As per the RTA’s latest survey, In 2022marine transport served approximately 16 million passengers, highlighting its significance in the city’s transportation network. The self-driving electric Abra project, alongside the planned enhancements to traditional Abra stations, will further support the marine transportation infrastructure and contribute to seamless mobility across the city.

Collaborating with the Dubai Maritime City Authority

As the autonomous electric abra project progresses, the RTA will collaborate with the Dubai Maritime City Authority to establish legislation for autonomous marine vehicles. This collaboration will increase safety standards and regulations while also fostering innovation and growth within the maritime sector.

Source : Khaleej (Dubai Daily News Paper)


The self-driving electric abra is a leading-edge project that embraces the City’s commitment to innovation, promoting sustainability, and strengthening its transportation network. As the city moves closer to achieving its ambitious vision of a future dominated by self-driving journeys, the autonomous electric abra serves as a shining example of what can be accomplished through the fusion of tradition, technology, and forward-thinking leadership.

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